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Chicago Storm Leaves Thousands Without Power as Temps Climb

Damage from a supercell storm that moved through the area Monday has residents without electricity for cooling even as the heat index rises above 100 degrees. An excessive heat warning remains in effect through Wednesday.

Anchal Khanna of Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood touches her son Veer Roy as the 2-year-old considers the landscape of Millennium Park's Crown Fountain during a heat wave on June 14, 2022. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/TNS)
Chris Sweda/TNS
(TNS) — City and suburban authorities had mere hours overnight to transition from cleanup after a line of powerful thunderstorms left thousands without power and wind-related damage in its wake to a heat wave that pushed heat indexes over 100 degrees.

Just a half day removed from tornado sirens blaring across northern Illinois Monday evening as a supercell storm moved through the area, officials from Elgin to the city quickly switched gears, asking residents to reach out if their homes lack proper cooling, even as they removed downed tree limbs.

The storm downed hundreds of trees, which directly led to the widespread outages across the region, according to the National Weather Service. They also caused damage to small planes at Schaumburg Airport, and partially blew the roof off of a Bellwood apartment complex.

Just after 3 p.m., the temperature at Midway reached 100 degrees for the first time since July 2012, the weather service tweeted. At noon, O’Hare had a temperature of 93 degrees with a 103 heat index, according to the weather service. An excessive heat warning will be in effect until 8 p.m. Wednesday.

“Residents should feel empowered to contact 311 if they are in need of assistance. It’s also important to check on relatives, neighbors, seniors and our vulnerable populations when temperatures climb to extreme levels,” said officials from the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communication.

The storms left 125,000 northern Illinois residents without power, but ComEd reported having restored all but 25,000 by midday Tuesday, according to a spokesperson.

Supercells are the least common type of thunderstorm, according to weather experts, and can produce violent storms, powerful winds and large hail. Suburbs near O’Hare International Airport, which saw wind gusts up to 84 mph, bore the brunt of the damage.

The weather service said the most severe damage occurred between Schaumburg and Brookfield, including Roselle, Bellwood and Westchester.

Officials in Brookfield said the storm caused about 1,600 outages and heavy damage. “Virtually all areas of the village were impacted” by Tuesday’s storm, according to an online statement by village officials.

Brookfield also suffered “significant” damage from storms, including numerous reports of large downed trees and power lines. “The north side of town got whacked pretty hard,” said Brookfield Fire Chief Jim Adams.

Officials there also helped move residents from the Cantata adult living facility to Lyons because of a lack of air conditioning, the chief added.

In Schaumburg, officials reported dispatching multiple “chipper crews” to clean up branches from parkway trees and were still assessing storm damage.

Some suburbs, such as Mount Prospect, say they got away relatively unscathed, with its public works staff able to handle its wind damage complaints. “I think we dodged a bullet,” Mount Prospect Village Manager Michael Cassady said in an email.

A number of towns and villages were pooling resources to help with cleanup, including Roselle, Bartlett, Warrenville, St. Charles, Algonquin, Buffalo Grove and Batavia.

In Chicago, city crews responded to 479 tree emergencies, with just over 800 requests for the removal of tree debris, a Streets and Sanitation spokesperson said.

It was unclear exactly how many area residents sought out cooling centers due to lack of electricity. City officials also activated its six community cooling centers that will operate through Friday.

Chicago’s hot weather response plan of cooling centers and well-being checks are the result of the July 1995 heat wave that left more than 700 dead from heat-related injuries. Poor, elderly and other vulnerable populations are most at risk.

Heat deaths recently reentered the news after three women were found dead inside hot apartments last month at the James Sneider Apartments in Rogers Park. Heat was suspected as the cause of death, but an official cause had not been issued.

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